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Friday, May 2, 2014

Exercise Calms Agitation Associated with Dementia


Agitation and functioning improved in a group of elderly nursing home residents suffering from severe dementia when they engaged in just 30 minutes of supervised exercise three times a week.

Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

If you put the word exercise in the search box of this blog (see, Search
Our Intelligent Knowledge Base on the right hand side of this page) you will find we have numerous articles in our knowledge base on the importance and effectiveness of exercise in Alzheimer's and dementia care.

Exercise Calms Agitation Associated with Dementia

I believe one of the most important things to do with or for a person living with Alzheimer's disease is to exercise.

The transformation my mother would undergo after exercising was really amazing to see.

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In part, exercise explains how I was able to transform my mother from being very mean and angry into a person more like her former self -- before Alzheimer's.

I can tell you this. My mother walked at the pace of a snail and was falling down all the time before we started exercising 5 times a week.

When my mother walked she held on to anything she could grab. This included when I held her hand, or, when she held on to my arm. The walls, a hedge, the hood of car -- you name it.

Nevertheless, my mother could walk on a treadmill on her own. She was still walking on the treadmill without assistance (yes, I was standing next to her) at the age of 94 and when she was well past the moderate stage of dementia

Please note. My mother never used a walker. And, once I got her into an exercise regimen she never fell. In fact, she stopped falling.

I also worked my mother on weight machines in the gym.

Did I mention that I first took my mother into the gym was she was 88 years old?

Exercise calms agitation associated with dementia

In a pilot study, agitation and functioning improved in a group of elderly nursing home residents suffering from severe dementia when they engaged in just 30 minutes of supervised exercise three times a week.

Edris Aman at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri, who conducted the study, told Reuters Health:
Lots of people just assume that people with this kind of (severe) dementia cannot follow exercise instructions, but they can. It just takes more patience on the part of the exercise coordinator -- me in this case.
Aman said his study was unique because it involved people suffering from severe dementia who were living in the "special needs" units of two nursing homes. The 50 study participants, whose average age was 79, performed 15 minutes of aerobic exercise and 15 minutes of weight lifting three times a week.

"Before and after" tests revealed that patients were far less agitated after completing the 3-week exercise program. They also showed significant improvement in their functional status -- specifically, the distance they could walk in six minutes.

Aman, who presented his research at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society, said there didn't seem to be an improvement in depression with exercise; however, this was a "very low dose of exercise," he said; and, "there are a lot of studies that are emerging" that do show a benefit of exercise on depression.

The take-home message, Aman said, is that
"exercise benefits all; even those with severe dementia can reap the benefits of exercise if people are patient enough."
Please consider sharing this information in Alzheimer's and dementia support groups, and on social media sites like Facebook and Google.

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